Thursday, December 26, 2013

Three BIG STEPS to Being up to Amazing Things in your Life (Clearing a Space for a New Year’s Resolution)

Three BIG STEPS to Being up to Amazing Things in your Life
(Clearing a Space for a New Year’s Resolution)

The Three things:

1. Focusing on other’s people’s progress or lack thereof is not a good idea (for the most part, there are a few minor exceptions).

This is so true that there are lots of psychology quotes like this one:

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

2. The best way to make your life better and to grow is to focus on your own stuff.

True again. There are lots of psychology quotes like these:

“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.”

“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.”

“It is often tragic to see how blatantly a man bungles his own life and the lives of others yet remains totally incapable of seeing how much the whole tragedy originates in himself, and how he continually feeds it and keeps it going.”

3. Don’t do it for reward, recognition, or validation. Do it because it is for your own growth (the growth of your soul) and it is the right thing to do.

True.  “The journey is the reward” Steve Jobs

Zuri’s Story

Zuri has a lot on her mind. She worries. She worries about everything. She often worries so much that she even worries about being a worrier. Which upon worrying about that (how much she worries), Zuri realizes how crazy it is to worry about being a worrier—and so she worries about how crazy she might be—and then Zuri laughs.

Ugh, The Yoga Bag, it has so much wisdom and Zuri sometimes resents it. She resents the truth. The truth is that her struggles are not all that unique. She reads that for many thousands of years, perhaps even forever, people have struggled with the turnings of the mind (e.g., Sutras 1.4 and 1.5).

The stuff in The Yoga Bag about the Bhagavad Gita- that is right too. From what Zuri understands from my annotations, Arjuna, the finest archer and hero of the Gita, struggled with some of the same things that Zuri struggles with.

In Gandhi’s interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita ( he writes,

“By reason of delusion, man takes wrong to be right. By reason of delusion was Arjuna led to make a difference between kinsman and non-kinsman. To body (non-Self) and Atman (Self) and shows that whilst bodies are impermanent and several, Atman is permanent and one. Effort is within man’s control, not the fruit thereof. All he has to do therefore, is to decide his course of conduct or duty on each occasion and persevere in it, unconcerned about the result. Fulfillment of one’s duty in the spirit of detachment or selflessness leads to freedom.”

Arjuna fought this temptation to judge and want results. Gandhi even struggled with these things. Zuri could not explain this away by saying that Arjuna and Gandhi had it easier than she did. Neither had it easy, Arjuna was in the midst of battle and Gandhi was fighting for human rights.

Curious, Zuri Googles Gandhi and reads ( She is amazed and inspired by all he has done and shocked to read that he was murdered. As she reads, she feels a strong sense of validation in her experience.

What Zuri is beginning to realize is that you must do the right thing and that will give you freedom. That is all there is. Only this-- YOU must do the right thing.

Back to point Number One:

1. Focusing on other’s people’s progress or lack thereof is not a good idea.

Nowhere in The Yoga Bag, the Sutras, or the Gita does it say you should track others (like her Mom and Eric, her brother) and make sure they are doing the right thing. They stress her out, yes. They would stress anyone out. But what Zuri is realizing is that she is spending 100% of her time and energy worrying about, judging, and being right about them.

Nowhere does it say you should sit and ruminate about others being wrong, or gossip (process- whatever you call it) with your friends about how you think this one or that one is doing and how you might do it better. It just doesn’t say that anywhere.

What Zuri is realizing is that it is not about controlling, being right, or in judgment. This is so hard, because she feels like her Mom is so very, very wrong in all she is doing. As I write, I must agree—it is wrong to get drunk, leave your children, gamble their food money away, and neglect or hurt those who need you most. Zuri’s Mom, Sherece, is so very, very wrong. It feels good to say that and think that. It feels good in some ways to judge others and be right. It feels really good.

But what does it do? What does it feed?

Zuri is starting to notice that it feeds the turning of her mind, the worry. She notices that it feeds her righteousness and not her being in right action. Zuri notices that it feeds her anger, her frustration, and it makes her…. it makes her… feel like doing things that aren't so great- like yelling at her little brother Rashan and it gives her headaches. It makes her tired.

She reads again what Gandhi said. She thinks, “I don’t need to make myself right. I don’t need to think of me and her and us as separate. I don’t need to judge and fight and hate. I need to set my heart and mind to intention and do my work, be with my friends and people I love. I need to be here and present and create joy in my life. I need to stop worrying and control what I can, my own actions.”

Ah, Number Two:

2. The best way to make your life better and to grow is to focus on your own stuff.

Zuri knows this will be a constant practice. She knows she is not alone. She has read my journaling and how I work on this. She has read how Gandhi and Arjuna worked on this.

She sets her intentions.

“I will catch myself when I am judging and needing to be right. These things do not make me happier or stronger. I will breathe and refocus my thoughts. I will think, ‘Effort is within my control. I can create what I need in my life.’”

Last, maybe the hardest, Zuri thinks about number three.

3. Don’t do it for reward, recognition, or validation. Do it because it is for your own growth (the growth of your soul) and it is the right thing to do.

Zuri wishes someone really saw her and how she tried. Her Aunt Jasmine saw her and now she is sick. Sometimes her teachers at school see her. Sometime Miss Amanda the yoga teacher sees her. She loves that. She get’s it though. If it is only for the recognition of others, it is shaky. They come and go and see and don’t see. Zuri wants her journey to be steadier than that.

She wants to make a difference in her own life and show her friends that being healthy, good in school, and sober is possible and maybe even fun. She knows that she is going to do something big in her life. She knows she is young and she is figuring out what it will be. She is up for the journey. If she was only going to do this when people see and when people tell her how great she is, hmmmm, there will be gaps and set-backs. She has to be for her own growth. She has to be in action because she wants to. As she thinks about this, she knows this is right.

I wish I could tell her that I see her. I wish I could tell her that I know how hard she tries and how much she is up against. It’s not only Zuri. There are so many kids like this. Unseen and trying so hard. Zuri, we see you.  

The Process

Do you want space in your life to do something great?

Notice how much time you spend evaluating the actions, or rightness of action, of others. It can be very easy to ruminate (think over and over and over again about something) on: (a) what other people are doing, (b) what you do not like about what they are doing, or (c) what you think is wrong about what they are doing. [Of course, there are times when we need to be mindful of the wrong actions of others (like an accountant stealing your life savings or a drunken friend grabbing the car keys to drive home). In these cases, yes, act and concern yourself.]

We waste our time when we spend it considering the gray areas of other peoples’ growth processes. We are not all on the same trajectory. We have our own growth curves, lessons to learn, battles to fight within, and struggles. Some of us are in synch, sure. But many of us are doing this at very different paces with very different struggles.

We all have the right to our own growth, learning, and success. We all have the right to do this at the pace our soul and the universe feel is the right pace.

There is an art to loving someone who is struggling. Sure, tell them when they are way out of bounds. You could say this, “I love you and lately I have noticed X, Y, and Z. Are you okay? Do you need anything?”

Another time to speak is of someone you love is in deep trouble. You can say, “I love you and I am very worried about X, Y, and Z. I am afraid you are getting yourself into some serious trouble. Are you okay? Do you need anything?” Like last blog post, Zuri and Eric are going to talk to their mom and they should.

For the rest of it. Let go and let God. Let your friends and your family grow and struggle at their own paces. Be of love and acceptance.

To be up to something big, focus on your stuff, your own growth.

Ask yourself this: Are more than 50% of my thoughts about someone else (or lots of someone elses) being wrong?

If you said yes, you would benefit greatly from a shift. Shift your thoughts to your goals, dreams, and what you want to be of creation of in this world. If you do this, you will experience a 1,000% increase in energy, lightness, and happiness.

Like Zuri, think about what you can do, want to do, and want to create. There is a freedom (like Gandhi said) in letting all of that go and focusing on your own efforts, your own journey.

Last, it is not about who notices, who tells you that you are great, and what rewards you get. It is about the journey. It is about what you are up to.

It is exactly this truth that Arjuna learned from Krishna, Gandhi manifested in his life, and Jesus illustrated in his life.

Focus on your good and your growth and not on reward, recognition or acknowledgement. The fruits, the benefits, the reward, may be far from coming (or may never come so long as you live) and that does not matter. It does not matter because that is not why we do things.

We make our choices because we are up to something bigger than rewards, validation, or acknowledgement. We are up to do what empowers, what is good, and what is right.

So here they are:

 Three BIG STEPS to Being up to Amazing Things in your Life
(Clearing a Space for a New Year’s Resolution)

1.    Catch yourself ruminating on others.
2.     Focus on your own stuff.
3.    Remember, the journey is the reward.

Next blog is about setting an awesome New Year’s Resolution. This should clear the space for something powerful. Get ready and get clear!



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